At its core French toast is a peasant dish. When every cent of your food budget counts, not a single scrap can be wasted, even those errant scraps of bread that went stale throughout the week. But in our modern age French toast has gone from a dish of necessity to a very big deal. (If only those French peasants from back in the day had known they could have been charging $15 per plate for their cupboard scraps.)
French toast has become a dish that requires planning, and for most people, using whatever leftover bread you have on hand is not good enough. Some home cooks even go as far as to purchase a fresh loaf of their choice days in advance so it has ample time to stale. If you’re taking the time to plan your Saturday morning breakfast on Tuesday afternoon, you should also take the time to consider what type of bread you’re going to use to make French toast, since they’re not all created equal.
These are the best breads to make French toast that are readily available in most supermarkets.
This is considered the gold standard for French toast because it already has more butter and eggs than most cakes, so once the custard is added, you’ve essentially got yourself one of the greatest (or worst, depending on whether or not you're a cardiologist) things you can put into your body. There is no case that can be made against using brioche to make French toast aside from the fact that it’s another step towards your death, but that’s inevitable anyway so who really freaking cares.
Normally you should avoid packaged sliced bread because it’s flimsy and floppy and has a tendency to dissolve into goo when added to the French toast custard. However, sweet and spongy potato bread is worth it. Not only does it have more flavor than your average loaf, potato starch sucks up custard like a Hoover vacuum, resulting in an impossibly creamy interior.
But how can you achieve this interior when the bread comes thinly sliced? Stack a bunch of slices of potato bread on top of each other and secure the corners with a toothpick. You could also drizzle a little bit of jam on each slice as you stack them to make a stuffed French toast.
This slightly sweet loaf is a favorite of diners but not a favorite of mine, because I’m a nonconformist. Also, I think that once you add syrup it becomes too sweet, but if you’re going to eat it rolled around a fat breakfast sausage, or topped with something like a schmear of tahini with the faintest drizzle of honey (try it), then it’s all good.
Who doesn’t love a dark horse? Sourdough’s tartness is the perfect foil for saccharine sweet syrup, not to mention the powdered sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, butter, and any other poor decisions you want to put on top of your custard-soaked bread.
Ideally you’d use an “artisanally baked” white bread like a boule or pan de mie, but some of us shop at crappy supermarkets where the fanciest thing you’re bound to find (on a good day) is a loaf of French bread. If you’re one of those people, you’re in luck, because baguettes not only make excellent French toast, their tiny slices mean you can fit more pieces in the pan while cooking. That means less time at the stove and less time to hold out before stuffing your face.